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Lab-confirmed statewide case totals to date surpass previous two seasons combined
Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health
Wondering if it’s worth getting a flu vaccine? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicate that the 2022-23 influenza season flu vaccine formulations are a good match to protect against the currently circulating flu viruses.
“We will keep repeating the importance of getting a flu vaccine and reducing your risk of transmitting respiratory illnesses for one reason: It saves lives,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “When it comes to flu, any degree of protection against a debilitating infection is worth it.”
“Spending time with family is such a central part of the holiday season,” she continued. “With a quick trip to a local pharmacy, you can prevent days of feeling ill and missing out on time with family and friends. It is also a way to avoid lost time from work and, for children, days at school and sports activities.”
New York State Department of Health data through Nov. 12, 2022 (week 45) show an astonishing number of lab-confirmed flu cases statewide, especially in comparison to previous influenza seasons. In a comparable year – 2019-20 – there were 276 lab-confirmed flu cases in New York state. This year, the statewide influenza case total was 11,696, which is more than 40 times the 2019-20 influenza case numbers. This is a remarkable difference.
Statewide flu-related hospitalizations showed a significant and atypical increase through Nov. 12, 2022. Of all New York regions, Western New York had the highest incidence of flu-related hospitalizations per 100,000 population. WNY also had the second-highest total hospitalizations by region, around 230 patients for the week ending Nov. 12.
Erie County cases accounted for about 14% of the statewide total. All but a few cases were identified as influenza type A, which is typical for this time of year. The 1,647 flu cases among Erie County residents this season has already surpassed the 2020-21 and 2021-22 season totals – combined.
It is worth noting, too, that these data only show lab-confirmed flu cases. Most people with flu are either not tested or their test results are not reported through the New York state system. So, these numbers undercount the true burden of disease.
If past influenza seasons are any indication, New York and Erie County will not see a peak in flu infections until January or February 2023, time during which case totals and rate of community spread may continue to increase.
“Do not delay,” Burstein said. “You should get your flu vaccine annually each fall, and there is no better time than right now.”
CDC conducts genetic and antigenic testing of flu samples from state and local health departments. Genetic testing identifies specific influenza virus strains, or variants. Antigenic testing indicates whether the flu vaccine produces an immune response against a specific influenza virus. See “Key Points” in the most recent Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (November 18, 2022).
√ Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH), flu: www.erie.gov/flu
√ ECDOH, Get a flu vaccine, it’s not too late: https://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=press/get-flu-vaccine-%E2%80%93-it%E2%80%99s-not-too-late
√ NYSDOH, flu tracker: https://nyshc.health.ny.gov/web/nyapd/new-york-state-flu-tracker
√ CDC, weekly influenza surveillance report: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
√ CDC, flu FAQs: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm
√ Where to get a flu vaccine: https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines